I was a bit tense, nervous and excited! The first day of grade 4 began in less than an hour! Outside, the loud pattering of raindrops was frequently interrupted by thunder. I sat on a stool in front of the mirror, staring glum-faced at the reflection of mom combing my hair, getting me ready for school. It was soothing, how she combed the hair. The soft touch of the comb on the scalp as she straightened my hair and pulled it back was comforting. Her soft murmurs of how I should care for my hair more, spend less time in the heavily chlorinated water of the swimming pool, how my hair was getting thinner and wondering whether a new shampoo would really help, were all a helpful distraction. With a final flourish and a smile on her face, she styled my hair into the prescribed double-pigtails. Just then, in the reflection of the mirror, we both looked at each other, and her infectious smile crept on my face too. “Everything is going to be alright!” she said.
There are scores of little, everyday moments where mothers and daughters bond over hair oiling, head massages, and haircuts! Here is a glimpse of a few such moments.
I shouldn’t have fought with mom! But it was her fault too! Why would she keep pestering me to help clean the house? Still, I had been very rude and now, on a holiday with no college, with time to reflect, the guilt was eating me. As part of the holiday tradition, mom warmed the hair oil and beckoned me for the weekly “hot oil” hair massage. Both of us were giving each other the silent treatment and the massage commenced in this stoic silence. For a moment, the magic of her fingers swept away the thoughts of guilt and remorse in my mind. It was pure pleasure, the touch of warm oil being scrubbed into my scalp; her slender fingers, caressing my hair and head; the gentle thumps with her palm, as she dabbed some more oil on my scalp. Like a wave, however, the guilt returned and mom’s soft, caressing touches had been the last blow to the barriers I had put up. As I burst into a tearful apology, mom stopped scrubbing my scalp for a split second, before she playfully slapped my back. I felt so much lighter!
It was a morning with a lot of buzz! With just three days to go for my elder sister’s wedding, the house was swarming with relatives. The fragrance of fresh flowers prevailed throughout the house and the cheerful sounds of laughter and conversations emerged from every room. As I opened the door to my bedroom, I saw ‘naani’ (maternal grandmother) combing mom’s hair. It was surprising and cute at the same time and mom gave me her usual disarming smile. Just then, my elder sister and dad marched into the room and before I knew it, dad was taking a photo of ‘naani’, smiling, seated on the chair, combing mom’s hair, who was combing my elder sister’s hair and she, mine! Best pic ever!
I was spending my last month in India with mom and dad before I moved abroad for work. A lazy Sunday afternoon, a detailed “how to” article in a magazine and my long-held urge to give someone a haircut had been too much for mom to overpower. The moment of judgment was here! As mom sat on the chair, I hastily spread out the newspapers around the chair. As she sat there, she muttered how she didn’t think it was a good idea and asked me to be careful. In response, I just smiled impishly as I navigated through her hair, making the way with deft snips of the scissors, and spraying some water from time to time. Finally, with the split-ends removed and the white strands eliminated, I produced a mirror for her to see the results. As she heaved a sigh of relief and looked at mirror rather pleased, I couldn’t help but hug her tight.
Keep blowing the Trumpet! This & many more stories await in the pages!